Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
MICHAEL Essien arrived yesterday afternoon at the Black Stars camp in Kumasi for tomorrow’s opening group game against Libya in the world cup qualifiers.
Essien comes into camp with Tuinisia-based Moussa Narry, who has been given a late call-up to replace veteran defender Kofi Amponsah, who could not make it to camp.
Essien is the fulcrum of the midfield and all attention will be on him to orchestrate that department of the team.
For the millions of expectant Ghanaians even a draw would be a nightmare, especially as the team faces a side whose pedigree comes nowhere near the Ghanaians.
Notwithstanding the great expectations of the home fans, the high spirits in the camp of the Libyans speak of a side that is bidding to hand the Stars a surprise defeat.
The fact that they have been rated underdogs seems to have ignited their spirit and given them the impetus to plan a strategy to subdue the Ghanaians.
For the players who will line up for Ghana tomorrow, they know that the nation expects nothing but victory.
That is why coach Sellas Tetteh promised that they would go all out for victory. He cannot take things for granted, for Ghanaians are in no mood for anything apart from a good cushion to the World Cup finals, which must start tomorrow as Ghana launches another bid for a place in the biggest football tournament on the globe.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Ghana finally secured its first ever ticket for the FIFA World Cup in Germany 2006 where an excellent performance by the debutants saw them as the only Africa side to reach the second round.
This surely catapulted the country’s football to another level, and since then the Black Stars have become so attractive that many great football nations are itching to engage them in friendlies.
But the fact that the qualifying match against Libya is being played on home soil does not guarantee victory for the nation. They have to work hard for victory, something coach Sellas Tetteh admits, and says, “We shall surely do it”.
Fortunately for the team, there are no injuries in camp and the strong support they are expected to enjoy in Kumasi tomorrow should be enough to propel them to deliver.
Ghana’s greatest strength lies in the middle department of the game where Essien and Muntari are a powerful two-man horse.
Muntari’s incredible talent, which had seen him turn out several virtuoso performances for the team, should tell positively on the game.
The attack to feature Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Junior Agogo and Haminu Draman should be strong enough to dismantle any barrier that the Libyans will mount in front of their goal.
For skipper John Mensah, he cannot but galvanise his colleagues into action to prove to all that there is no turning back.